FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates - As Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz grew louder over the weekend, the United Arab Emirates quietly loaded its first cargo on Sunday from its long-awaited new oil export terminal on the Gulf of Oman.
UAE oil officials and executives from oil majors such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Total gathered on the eastern coast of the country to open an alternative route for up to 75 percent of UAE's exports.
A European Union ban on Iranian crude imports came into effect on July 1 and Iran has been intensifying its threats to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf. Two Iranian military officials warned over the weekend that Iran could stop oil from sailing through the vital shipping lane.
Alarmed by the Iranian threats, the UAE has completed its long-delayed project to pump up to 1.8 million barrels a day (bpd) to an export terminal on the eastern port of Fujairah.
Over the next few months, the Gulf OPEC member hopes to increase exports from the new facility to around 1.5 million bpd, nearly two-thirds of the 2.4 million it typically exports each day, and the new pipeline could carry three-quarters of the UAE's oil exports if needed.